Pella Chronicle

December 23, 2011

Top issues

The Chronicle

Pella — To the editor,

One of the top issues— if not the top issue—of this election cycle is government spending and the country’s deficit. I do not understand how Mitt Romney (the “businessman”) continues to dismiss the significance of waste and the value that could be provided by dramatically reducing or eliminating it. In the last year, countless reports have highlighted Washington’s wasteful spending— $16 muffin, anyone? Yet, Mr. Romney continues to say that waste is not significant enough to matter. As a taxpayer, I think every dollar the government spends should be valued. The other five presidential candidates have endorsed the importance of waste reduction. Each has signed a pledge to tackle waste in government by using a proven waste elimination processes. This pledge was created by Strong America Now, which has over 25,000 Iowa supporters.  

The organization is proposing every department, agency, and program in the federal government go through the waste-elimination process known as Lean Six Sigma. The process may have a funny name, but it is serious business. The founder, who is a pioneer of the process and has written six books on the topic, has found that on average it can save 25 percent.

Presidential candidate Michele Bachmann said: “American businesses are unrivaled in their efficiency. But, while the private sector is constantly fine tuning to run as lean as possible, our bloated and inefficient government is setting records for deficit spending. This has to stop, and I’m proud to have signed the Strong America Now pledge.”

If actions speak louder than words, here are some examples to ponder: the Army was producing only five MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles per day despite an urgent need for many more. These waste reduction techniques were employed and increased production to 50 vehicles a day with no additional personnel or resources. This is an improvement of 90 percent or a reduction of similar amounts of waste. Naval Air Operations also developed standardized metrics for fleet readiness. They improved readiness and saved $120 million a year, a savings which recurs each year. What would the numbers add up to across the government? If every department applied these techniques to every program, the average savings would be approximately 25 percent, which means a balanced budget by 2017.

For those who quibble about the percentages or numbers, waste reduction should still be the top priority for the next president. Iowans should note Romney’s lack of concern, dedication and interest in taxpayer dollars and how they are being spent. If Romney is elected, the spending status quo will continue at a time when we desperately need to put our country on the path to prosperity.

Gregg C. Cummings